Green Bay Packers 2018 roster review: Clay Matthews

GREEN BAY, WI - SEPTEMBER 28: Clay Matthews
GREEN BAY, WI - SEPTEMBER 28: Clay Matthews /

It was a solid season for Clay Matthews in 2017.

The Green Bay Packers‘ edge rusher made a number of important plays throughout the season, while missing just two games.

Let’s take a look back at his 2017 season, and predict his role on the team next year.

Season in review

Statistically, it was Clay Matthews‘ best season since 2014. He led the team in sacks with 8.5, and was the Packers’ most consistent pass rusher.

Matthews stayed relatively healthy but did miss two games due to injury. He played 656 snaps in total, good for 62.64 percent of the team’s defensive snaps, according to Pro Football Reference. This was considerably up from the 476 snaps (46.26 percent) he played in 12 games in 2016.

The 31-year-old proved he still has value to the Packers, and he will remain an important piece on defense under new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine.

Looking ahead to 2018 season

What’s the best role for Matthews moving forward? Personally I’d like to see him make a more permanent shift inside. He could form an excellent partnership with Blake Martinez, and pick up where he left off during his last stint inside.

In the full season he played at inside linebacker, Matthews was still an effective pass rusher, tallying 6.5 sacks, only two fewer than he posted on the outside this past season.

It’s not as simple as just moving him inside, though. The Packers first need to ensure they have the outside linebackers capable of filling in his spot. That wasn’t the case in 2017.

If Brian Gutekunst can restock the outside linebacker position and the Packers can find consistent pressure off the edge without Matthews, we could see him move inside. It’s a long way off, but that would be a fun scenario.

Matthews is set to become a free agent after the 2018 season. In the meantime one has to wonder whether Gutekunst will ask him to take a pay cut. Matthews’ cap hit for next season is $11.37 million, according to Spotrac.

In my opinion it’s more likely the Packers ask Jordy Nelson to take a pay cut, and let Matthews’ contract play out.

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Time will tell.